Yourha Kang, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of
New Rochelle, NY 10801
I am the plant biologist at Iona
College and I mainly teach
Biochemistry, Botany, and Pharmacology. I am also currently the chair of
the Biology Department. My background is primarily in the field of plant
molecular biology, but I have interests in biochemistry and plant
physiology. I currently have two research projects at Iona.
The first project is investigating the population genetics of butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa).
The second is a project investigating the molecular mechanisms behind the
ability of the common reed (Phragmites australis) to tolerate high metal environments.
Introduction to Botany
Introduction to Pharmacology
General Biology Laboratory
Project 1: Asclepias tuberosa, the butterfly weed, is a plant that is part
of the milkweed family and is primarily known because it provides a habitat
for butterflies, particularly monarch butterflies. Butterflies lay
their eggs underneath the leaves of the milkweed, and the larvae eat the
plants. The plant is easy to grow and the flowers are quite attractive
and therefore, the plant is seen in many "butterfly gardens."
Native populations of the butterfly weed are apparently disappearing in New
York State, however, such that the plant has been labeled "expoitably vulnerable" and is protected by New
law. I am interested in the genetic diversity that exists in the
butterfly weed plant in Westchester County, New
York State, and in the rest of the United States where butterfly
weed is found. The study began locally at Marshlands Conservancy in Rye,
NY, and has expanded to include plants from
parks in Westchester County,
upstate NY, as well as plants from all over the country, including Florida,
I am hoping to expand the project to other include plants from other areas of
the country. This research could not have been possible without the
help of numerous volunteers from various native plant societies
throughout the United States,
nor without a grant from Friends of Marshlands in Rye,
NY. Jim Boylan ('04) based his honors
thesis on this research. Marissa Sansone (’10), Lauren Sica
(’09), Florybeth Lavalle (’09), Amanda
Glaser (’08), and Christina McDonough (’07) have also contributed
to this research.
Click here for an
abstract and picture of a poster presentation of this research made during
the Tri-Beta Regional Convention held on April 25, 2009 at St.
Joseph’s College in West Hartford,
for the abstract for the Bios publication: Boylan J, LaValle
F, and Kang Y. 2009. Determination of genetic relationships among
populations of Asclepias tuberosa (Asclepiadaceae) based
on ISSR polymorphisms. BIOS 80(1): 25-34.
The publication was honored
with the McClung Award for the best paper published in the journal, Bios,
in the year 2009.
Click here for an
abstract of a poster presentation of this research made during a
conference of the Environmental Consortium
of Hudson Valley Colleges and Universities, October 29-30, 2004 at Marist
Click here for an
abstract of a poster presentation of this research made during the 2006
Annual Meeting of the American Society of Plant Biologists, August 4-9,
2006 in Boston, MA.
Click here for more pictures from the project
(picture of Phragmites
Project 2: Phragmites australis, the common reed, is a plant that is found
ubiquitously throughout North America.
It has been shown that the plant can survive in a number of different
habitats, including those with soils having a relatively high metal
content. I am interested in discovering the underlying mechanisms
associated with the plant’s ability to tolerate the higher levels of
heavy metals. We have hypothesized that Phragmites
contains proteins that either work to pump heavy metals out of the plant, or
accumulate them in different parts of the plant. Therefore, we are
using molecular techniques to identify the genes that may express proteins
involved in metal transport. Thus far, Nichole Walker (’11) has
designed DNA primers based on sequences of known metal transporters from
similarly-related plants. She has used these primers to amplify DNA
from Phragmites with the hopes of ultimately
finding and characterizing genes whose expressed products are involved in
metal transport. She has designed primers to amplify sequences coding
for iron, copper, lead, and zinc transporters, as well as metallothioneins.
Julia Zorn (’12) has continued this project.
for a picture and an abstract of a poster presented at the Northeast
Regional Convention of the National Biological Society, Tri-Beta in April
2011. Ms. Nichole Walker, who presented the poster, won third place for
her poster. Congratulations, Nichole!
Click here for an abstract
of a poster presented at the National Conference of the American
Association of Plant Biologists in August 2010.
My lifeline to the research world, NCBI (Pubmed):
A great resource for biology students and scientists: http://naturalsciences.sdsu.edu/links.html
Helpful general biology online textbooks:
Why do people say to eat your
vitamins? This site will tell you why:
Didn't think plants could move, huh? Look at
this movie of cytoplasmic streaming on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g0mrxXSWsN0
My favorite animation out there,
The Living Cell created at Harvard: http://multimedia.mcb.harvard.edu/media.html
All you want to know about Arabidopsis
and more, at The Arabidopsis Information Resource : http://www.arabidopsis.org
American Society of Plant Biologists: http://www.aspb.org
Check out my sister's website. She's an Associate Professor of Music
Theory at Scripp's College:
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